James Franco played James Dean in an eponymous 2001 TV biopic, and now he's channeling the "Rebel Without a Cause" with his art exhibit -- but the critics aren't pleased.
Two weeks ago, Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) opened Franco's further foray into the visual art world. Los Angles Times critic Christopher Knight was underwhelmed by the exhibit. When compared to the classic film from which it is inspired, the exhibit "suffers a predictable fate: It withers by inevitable comparison."
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"Rebel" is an "interrogative ode" to the iconic 1955 film. According to MOCA's site, the free exhibit "reinterprets the film's legends, the people involved, its place in Hollywood, film as a medium, and behind-the-scenes footage, in a new, fresh, and unconventional presentation of film, video installation, photography, painting, drawing, and sculpture, housed in and framed by iconic, Hollywood structures."
The multimedia exhibit features Franco's collaborative work with such male artists as Douglas Gordon, Harmony Korine, Paul and Damon McCarthy, Galen Pehrson, Terry Richardson, Ed Ruscha and Aaron Young.
Notable salacious components include "scattered blow-up dolls and the filmed castration of a live bull." Also, "a lot of dicks."
LA Weekly quoted painter Ty Williams on the abundance of penises present, which serve a purpose (of sorts). Franco and company, according to LA Weekly writer Amanda Lewis, "grappled with the pent-up, feverish sexuality of adolescence by exploring, among other themes, the homoerotic tension on-screen in the 1955 film, Dean's real-life bisexuality and a smattering of behind-the-scenes affairs that reportedly took place before and during the shooting of the movie."
However, even this isn't enough to recommend the work.
"Pastiche doesn't quite describe it. Dryly conventional does," Knight said in his review. "The show feels at once empty and stuffed."
ArtInfo concludes that "Franco is actually a rebel without a cause. He's a restless spirit, sure, but he has nothing to leverage an artistic gesture against."